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Debate on the polytheistic past of monotheism

Discussion in 'Ethics & Morality' started by ShamashUruk, Jul 19, 2017.

  1. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    Because it didn't, pre Israelite for the most part we find polytheistic belief systems. The Egyptians however do have a sect of their own monotheist, who escaped Egypt en masse about 1340-1345 bc. But, we don't find monotheism in early civilizations. A good example is the Sabbath which is a day of rest, I think Saturday. The earlier use of the term come from Babylon, sappatu, and is originally the 15th day of the month, the Jews being monotheistic borrow the ideas of a day of rest from Babylon, who believe in a multitude of Gods. But there are numerous other reasons, even linguistics indicates so. First languages come out of Sumer, Sumerian's worship a variety of Gods and in each city-state they worship one God, which could be argued for Henotheism. Yet, there is no evidence of monotheism. Please provide evidence of monotheism from early settings that cascade down the historical line. Even if you were to argue an Adam and Eve concept, you cannot do so without the origins of other creations epics that came before the Biblical creation epic, which is just another epic among the others. Admittedly Christianity is cute and all in its modern form, yet it has had a very serious past, both positive and negative. Not that, that is a reason, but my assertion is that Christianity should not be discarded as it has its own merits. In a spiritual sense for me the Bible has many Sumerian epics and legends, such as Noah and the deluge which is set on a backdrop of a much older flood epic, the epic of Ziusudra. Your response.
     
  2. Dave-W

    Dave-W Welcoming grandchild #7, Arturus Waggoner! Supporter

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    OR - the polytheists may have modified the ORIGINAL to suit their own interests.
     
  3. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    Not likely since monotheism is a much later development. Please provide how monotheism predates polytheism.
     
  4. Allandavid

    Allandavid Well-Known Member

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    Why is this being posted in the Ethics and Morality forum...?
     
  5. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    Good point, I guess provide some direction where it should be posted.
     
  6. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    Look, Josephus mentions that Manetho, the Hellenistic native Egyptian historian, wrote of a figure Osarseph, who was a Heliopolitan priest. This Osarseph led a group of slaves and peasants out of Egypt after making trouble for a while, and settled in Canaan. Josephus connected this to the Exodus account. Manetho's own work is lost, except for a few quotations and allusions.
    We have never found any corroboration for this from Egyptian written history, nor does an Exodus narrative fit anywhere in the traditional timelines of Egyptian history.

    The period of Aten worship ends with Tutankhaten ending it, and becoming Tutankhamen. He made peace with the traditional gods, and his successor Ay, started the process of trying to erase it completely from Egyptian history. There is no record of further Monotheism of this type in Egypt, nor of their moving to Canaan. With the biblical account and Manetho's, it does give one pause, but a connection here is highly suppositional, and has almost no support beyond conjecture.

    On alternative chronologies of Egyptian history, an Exodus is quite possible. After all, the Egyptian timeline is largely anchored on Shisaq being Seshonk I and a rising of Sirius, so is not too definite. Even a limited scaled-down Exodus on the traditional timeline is possible, but no definitive evidence thereof has come to light, only conjectures on equivocal and debatable points can be made to this effect.

    It is an interesting hypothesis, but the whole idea is that as specialisation takes place, that monotheism is discarded in the process, so that few successor mythologies have anything but susurrations of it.

    The northwest Semitic languages develop from proto-Semitic, just like Akkadian. They are not descendants of Akkadian, but a language from which both ultimately came. It is the same as in the Indo-European languages, where proto-Greek, Hittite, proto-Slavic, Indo-Iranian, etc., all descend from Proto-Indo-European. The Romance languages like French and Italian, all descended from Latin as the common origin of all; and in like manner, all the Semitic languages descend from proto-Semitic, be they South, West or East Semitic subgroups. Akkadian belongs to the East Semitic group, so the West Semitic languages like Amorite, Hebrew or Phoenician, are its cousins, not its descendants. Sumerian is a language isolate, with no descendant language, although it influenced these other languages. Ask your linguist friend, he will explain this better than I can, I am sure, but the West Semitic languages are not descendants of Akkadian.

    No, I don't know what you mean. Egypt spoke a Afro-Asiatic language, related to the Semitic languages, but again not of the same stock, being even a further step back. The Semitic languages and Egyptian had a common ancestor somewhere. It may be related to a fusion of early proto-Afro-Asiatic speakers and Nilo-Saharan speakers, is this what you are referring to?

    I don't see how you agree and disagree, for what you wrote here seems to agree with my understanding as well.

    Please do. What Hittite ritual acts as parallel to the Scapegoat? I am very interested in this as the Hittites are Indo-European and any such parallel can then be extended to their kin mythologies of Greek, Roman, Indian, Iranian, Norse, Slavic, Celtic, etc. Such exhaustive parallels can be fascinating such as the associations of various gods with Dyaus Piter or themes like the Triple Death in comparative Indo-European Mythology.

    I looked up any geological evidence for the Persian gulf being fertile land, and to my surprise it is theorised it had been at the end of the last glacial Maximum. That however is thousands and thousands of years before the start of Sumer, about 14500 years ago.


    On Salvation, most agree that it is through Jesus Christ. The specific mechanism isn't that important to my mind, but I have often thought that the various forms of Atonement aren't mutually exclusive.

    Most such foetuses you mentioned, abort spontaneously anyway. I am not going to debate Abortion with you, but I am opposed to abortion of healthy foetuses, myself. Abortion on and for strict medical criteria, such as chromosomal defects or the health of the mother, I have no problem with. You had to bring something on Ethics and Morality in here, to justify this forum choice?


    Well, I see Christianity as starting in Jerusalem of course, not Rome. That is 2000 years of development you are asking about, so could you be more specific?
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
  7. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    Interesting, on Osarseph, as we see the Atum creation epic in Heliopolitan as being a creation epic attributed to the deity close to Ra, which is Atum. But if Osarseph did lead this group out of Egypt, I am aware of the Heliopolitan being monotheist, as the Aten solar proto-monotheism embodied the Heliopolitan doctrine.


    Yes Josepheus connects this to the Exodus account, how even more interesting. I might actually draw the same conclusion that we don't find an exodus narrative in Egyptian history.


    But also there is an interesting comparitive, the Exodus from Egypt is compared to the rescue from Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem. Redemption from slavery and the avoidance of renewed enslavement is implied by comparing the nights of rescue in two different Biblical passages.


    The relationship between Sennacherib’s defeat and the Exodus from Egypt is further analyzed in a reference to Hezekiah in a series of people who recited the Hallel, e.g., Moses and Israel at the Reed Sea, as well as Deborah and Barak after the battle against Sisera.


    “Rabbi Eleazar ben ‘Azariah said: Hezekiah and his companions uttered it [the Hallel] when Sennacherib attacked them. They exclaimed: Not unto us, and the Holy Spirit responded” (b. Pesaḥ. 118a). Another evaluation of the prayer of Hezekiah is found below:


    "they took Sennacherib’s power away not with weapons nor with a shield, but with prayer and supplication to the Lord, as it says: “And Hezekiah, the king, and Isaiah, the prophet, son of Amoz, prayed because of this, and cried to heaven” (2 Chronicles 32:20). “And the thirsty panted after their wealth” (Job 5:5).


    Who was it that “panted after” Sennacherib’s wealth? Hezekiah and Isaiah and all that were with them. (Pesiq. Rab. 18:9; Ulmer ed.) In the above homiletic text, which is part of a long homily concerning the bringing of the Omer to the Temple, the focus is upon an appeal to prayer and repentance in order to overcome perilous situations; the example presented by the homilist is the threat of an attack by Sennacherib. The message in this homiletic context is that prayer alone can vanquish enemies without the use of weapons; the proof text is Job 5:5. The Midrashic interpretation leads to the conclusion that religious piety is potent.


    · At the gates of Jerusalem by author: Thomas Schneider


    I am not stating it means much, but it is certainly an interesting comparison of an earlier exodus in Bible myths.


    The issue with the theory of Ur-Monotheismus is that Polytheism is a pre Monotheistic practice, but this isn't to say that Polytheism isn't influence by Polytheism. Such as the Akkadian sky God An being influenced by the Sumerian sky God Anu, in a cultural context. I get the theory, but I still don't see how those early cultures were ever Monotheistic. Even in the original postulation that an lower God can enter the picture, is not indicative of Monotheism. Here is a thought in Sumer each city and village had their own God forms. Eventually, they start to link up. In Ancient India, this led to an assumption that all these gods might be different versions of the same thing or have the same source (see: Vedanta). In the ANE, empires amalgamated them into one official pantheon and, eventually, one official god.


    I have to research further on linguistics myself. But as I know Akkad is Semitic while Sumer is Sumerian. However we can look further into this subject, I will get back to you on this. Also, concerning writing, there are finds at Abydos that push back the writing in Egypt, which could make it contemporaneous with Mesopotamian invention and this would undermine that writing arose in Egypt from Sumerian influence. Also, in the region of Syria there is little evidence for the linear alphabet before the 1st Mill. BC; but at the site of Ras Shamra, in Ugarit there is a full functioning alphabetic system utilizing cuneiform signs rather than linear characters. This system appears to not be based on Sumero-Akkadian syllabic Cuneiform and was not only used for writing texts of all genres in the local West Semitic language of Ugarit, but occasionally for other language such as Hurrian, but as I know the Hittites are essentially influenced by the Hurrians, and Hittite language is Indo-Euro based, you can see this in the peace treaty in 1258 BC with the Egyptians. But I do agree that Sumer is a Pre Semitic language and I do agree that it has influence in Akkad. Hence your statement of “Sumerian is a language isolate, with no descendant language, although it influenced these other languages.” Also, I recommend a comparison of the Akkadian and Sumerian lexicons.


    http://www.sumerian.org/sumerian.pdf


    https://oi.uchicago.edu/sites/oi.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/shared/docs/mad3.pdf


    We see temples built to Gods in Ziggaurats and in Egypt we see Pyramids built for Pharoahs, but there is little influence from Ziggaurats to Pyramids and I believe the influence is from Sub Saharan cultures. So to your fusion of early proto-Afro-Asiatic and Nil-Saharan references I would agree there.


    I will a bit later answer on Hittite and Mesopotamian rituals as compared with the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament. Have to get to a shoot (for a movie) in an hour.


    I have a Christian friend (and we do occasionally debate), but he said that your discovery of the last glacial maximum is speculation. However, I hate to use the word speculation as it denotes a negative connotation and does not lead to any further discovery. This is one issue I have with the monotheistic community, anytime they disagree, they will jump to terms such as "speculation", "worldview" and other annoying clichés. It actually is a good psychological tactic, it makes the person feel as if they should research no further because their answer is authentic. In retrospect I agree that there was a glacial Maximum that far back, by the way check the Sumerian kings list for a length of how long rulers were in power, it is interesting. But, it is possible that the Fertile Crescent may have been different if land was at one time unified and not separated, the geo maps would have varied if this is so. Good research though on the last glacial Maximum. But, still Qatar would obviously be in different locations, especially if referencing Sumer and even Akkadian cuneiform in translation to modern archaeological sites.


    Yeah I would classify my nomenclature as Christian a few years back, but no more. I think agree with you, that salvation or the doctrine of is hotly debated in Christian circles. Interesting thought on Atonement for sin, are you stating then that asking for forgiveness of sins isn’t required, I think I’d agree with that , as we don’t see the thief on the cross asking for forgiveness in Biblical myths.


    Right, I was posting in an Ethics & Morality forum and I should have posted in the history forum. Though since I'm new I'm learning to navigate this thing I guess, hahahahaha.


    I think of Rome as from what I know that is when there is an emergence of a devil figure about 1200 bc, horns of Ba’al, hooves of Pan (from his cave in Israel), tail of a dragon (most likely Tiamat), and with a trident similar to that of Poseidon, and don’t forget a very nasty attitude to go along with it all. Similarly it is later in Isaiah that Lucifer is penned in 382 AD and is a mistranslation.



    Yeah Roman mythology is very interesting, I noticed you stated in your last comment something about it. It’s kind of an interesting thing because the Romans treat their traditional narratives as historical.
     
  8. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    To the Jews, the Exodus narrative is their national myth. It functions in the same way as the Iliad/Odyssey/Hesiod or Aeniad/Romulus does to Greece and Rome. So to see a lot of parallels and to use it to develop Jewish thought is to be expected.

    No, Ur-Monotheismus says that Monotheism predates polytheism, which was a development thereof, and bases this on primitive tribes that act as placeholders for the hypothetical human groups before they became more sophisticated. There is inductively derived evidence for this hypothesis, but it is of course by no means proven. The fact is that polytheism is not necessarily the base human form of religion either. Arguments can be made for Animism, pantheism, fetishism, polytheism or monotheism for the initial stage of human religious life, as all of these are present later. There were many spirited debates amongst anthropologists on these questions and the developmental models to support them. I urge you to read Schmidt's book or the Vienna School's theories in this regard, as I am not really doing it justice, as I am not an expert in Anthropology and read the book myself long ago.

    As far as I am aware, Egyptian Hieroglyphs are thought to be an independently derived writing system to Cuneiform, and that the first alphabets arose amongst Semitic peoples based on the Egyptian examples (specifically the abjad form, based on certain consonantal hieroglyphs).
    The Hittites wrote in cuneiform, as the large cache found at the ruins of Hattusas (Bogazkoy) attest, but likely had their own writing system. We see references to writing on skins amongst them, which obviously have not survived, and isolated characters that are a separate writing system, termed Anatolian Hieroglyphs. Like Egypt (Amarna Letters), the Hittites kept Cuneiform records of their dealings with other near-eastern potentates.

    Yes, Ziggurats have nothing to do with Pyramids. This does not mean pyramids are Nilo-Saharan in origin. I was asking about your cryptic references, which this has in no way elucidated.

    Please do.

    That was my whole point. It is speculation, as it is hopelessly too far in the past for much information on historical grounds to be derived thereby. How would Qatar be in different locations, or do you mean Dilmun?

    No, I am saying that whether you ascribe to Poenal Substitution, Scapegoat, Christus Victor, Moral Influence, etc. forms of Atonement, they all function by Christ. Any one of them may be the explanation how Atonement works, maybe more than one concurrently, but I don't think it really matters. All that I need to know is that it does work, I don't think we are able to grasp all the particulars, nor do I think this a requirement for Atonement to be operative.
    Atonement was by Jesus, a free gift of Grace. All sins were forgiven on the Cross. This is standard and near universal Christian dogma. It is when we start to try and piece together whether by prevenient grace, or through faith or via confession and contrition or what have you, that people start wondering how this is effected, how it is made operable. So this is a rich debate in Christianity in and of itself.

    Rome was founded 753 BC by traditional dates. I don't understand what you mean here. The devil portrayal in the west is likely a composite figure of various mythologies, such as Pan and perhaps the 'horned man' depicted on Celtic goods (dubiously named as Cernunnos), but that is very much open to interpretation.


    You should remember that the idea of something as 'History' or as 'Myth' is a later invention. Ow Barfield wrote on this, he called it the Ancient Unities, that are ancestors did not necessarily differentiate things that we today clearly do, sometimes even consider opposites. If your interested, I wrote extensively on Hellenistic views to this effect in this thread:

    Early practice of "baptizing" pagan traditions
     
  9. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    Right, I can see in Jewish folklore an exodus being compared to other myths. But I just don't see any extra Biblical evidence of a specific Israelite exodus actually happening.

    I will look into that theory further, but there are a few descending issues with the theory itself. Sumer begins as polytheistic even in agriculture we find varying Gods to bless their harvest, such as Abu, Hadad, and even Nissaba. The idea of Monotheism is one God with all the powers combined, sort of like superman times a billion. In polytheism we find multiple Gods with varying powers. Polytheism not being the base form of religion I understand, but I am unaware of how the people of Sumer were anything other than polytheists. You could make an argument for Henotheism in Sumer, as each city-state worshiped a God central to it, but not as a whole. But nonetheless it is an interesting theory and worht looking into, and is there a free copy of the book or do you have a link of some sort? Here is a commentary on the book (Wilhelm Schmidt and the Origin of Religion), but I'd expect thsi kind from a Christian website. In order for Monotheism to work you'd need a God and no other deities, of course one could argue that subservient deities work congruently with Monotheism, such as God being the hero and angels being subservient to God as they cannot exceed his power. However, I don't equate that with Monotheism either, if there is recognition of other beings such as angels in the example I just used. Angels worship God, so this could also indicate Monotheism, as humans are banned from the worship of angels. Wherein Polytheism, the human can worship which ever God he is drawn to worship. We don't see humans in Sumer being banned from worship of their chosen God, even in their homes they'd have a personal God.

    Not really sure where to go with your statement on Egyptian writing, if their writing is Afro-Asiatic which I don't disagree, then the Hittite's have an Indo-Euro based writing. We can see there are inherent differences. I think my only point was that we do see influence of Sumer on Akkad in writing. Also, correct on Ziggaurats and Pyramids, but if the influence on Egyptians is from the Saharan dwellers we'd note that there would be influence on Egyptians from the Saharan dwellers, possibly their ceremonies, rites, and so on. Allow me more research on this as I have it somewhere.

    I meant Dilmun, not Qatar. But, the only theory I think any Christian would agree with is that the earth at one time, land was not divided until Peleg or so. Whether Qatar was part of the fertile crescent remains to be seen, it is very possible, now that you can call a speculation. But if there is Biblical implications that land was not divided, which there are, is it really speculation?

    What am I thinking? 1200 AD, not BC, because in 380 AD Theodosius is the emporer. Also, 382 CE or AD should be used to denote the emergence of Lucifer in Isaiah, and in 1200 AD someone is in Rome (LOL) it totally escapes me who, and is spreading Christianity, but I cannot remember who it was. I will read your blog, thank you.

    Next up the comparing of rituals.
     
  10. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    Oh I didn't answer on your Atonement statement, for Christian folklore the idea of salvation at least for me is an old idea echoed later on in Christianity. However, your stance on Atonement is very well thought out, it is like a child someone comes to Christ it is said in Christian circles.
     
  11. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    Disposal of evils part 1
    Parallels to the bible rite part 2
    Parallels to the bible rite part 3
    Parallels to the bible rite part 4
    Parallels to the bible rite part 5
    Conclusion part 6
     

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  12. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    I am a little disappointed. I was hoping for stronger parallels, but this is essentially just the overarching concepts of sin being transferred and thus atoned for. This would make the Pharmakos ritual in archaic Greece the same, again a sacrificial rite for the community, although an outcast in this case. Or rites like the Leucaia in Rome. It is really not a very definitive connection at all.

    Even your conclusion states there is a wide gulf between the Hittite and Mesopotamian views and the Jewish Scapegoat, as the latter does not envision it as being given unto a deity or demon. Azazel means 'for complete removal' hence it was translated as 'Caper Emissarius' in the Vulgate or as a word for Scapegoat in the Septuagint, which escapes me at the moment. There is no evidence of a being Azazel before the midrashic literature of the Second Temple period, nor have strong or etymological antecedants been found either. So it actually shows a bit of Jewish exceptionalism here, if anything.

    That depends on how you derive your historic evidence or which timeline you adopt, as I said. Or continual historic narrative largely starts with Greek histories, so we try and fit other peoples' narratives onto it to descend it back in time. As I said, the Egyptian narrative is only anchored at two points, so none of our current timelines are completely satisfactory, although the traditional one is probably our best bet still, and the other Near-Eastern timelines are usually connected via the Egyptian one. This is why the Fall of Nineveh has been redated four times in a 150 years.
    So on alternate timelines, we have okay Exodus candidate time periods and on the traditional one, with references like Shasu of YHW and Egyptian reticence to record events not in their favour, there are still suppositional grounds to support a limited Exodus narrative. There is not an unambigious narrative for it though, no.

    You misunderstand though. It is a developmental theory, an explanation how Religion came into existence from our most primitive state. So centuries before Sumer, before the tribes that would become it started developing distinct cultures, this would have been the case. What survives are faint suggestions, which alone do not suggest it, but placed against the model, fit it quite well. The chief argument of the model, is whether this is a true develooment from primordial man, hence it focuses on the most primitive and least developed to try and support it, like Amazonian tribes or Andaman Islanders. By the time we have writings for Sumeria it is hopelessly too advanced to fit the most primitive stage, but would fit a later one with archaic elements pointing back to it. The Anthropologists will really be able to explain this and support it better than I can.

    Christians have many different views on these matters, you will see. My personal opinion is that the Peleg narrative refers to the triune split of populations according to Noah's sons, the Hamite, Semite and Japhethite, and not to 'land' per se.

    I think you are confusing me with someone else. I have no blog, nor do I understand the relevance of Theodosius? He was responsible for closing temples and dealing death blows to a lot of pagan traditions, but what this has to do with the depiction of the devil is beyond me.
     
  13. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    The enduring theme among each ancient culture is adoption of motifs, ideas, and so on. As I have stated before not every single adoption is direct. I know that in Greece Ceres for example is the Goddess of grain crops, we find in Sumer that Nissaba is also thought to be the Female God of grains, however she is only placed in that role and is less of a grain Female God. Even the placement of Goddess and Female God are inherently different as Sumer would not have a specific word for Goddess, but the equating of both for grains is semi connected in both cultures. Also, Ceres is a Titan who has to do with Greek creation myths, yet we don't see Nissaba in Sumer creation myths either, so even in Polytheistic beliefs we don't see a direct connection between both, but the parallel between both is that they are equated in grain growing, one by hap stance and the other directly. For Sumer agriculture is also inherently different than it would be in Greek as I am aware.


    I also don't doubt that in Greece the same kind of concepts are adopted, however in order to state that Greece did not adopt this idea and that it was an original idea there would have to be no preceding concept of the transference of sin.


    Sin for the early Israelite's is removal of transgressions through certain ceremonies, as well for Mesopotamian and Hittite cultures. So we see the parallelism between the both, but the mode of operation may not exactly be the same. The prevailing idea of discarding sin however is the common theme. There would at some point have to be influence among the cultures as they were neighboring cultures.


    On the opposite spectrum, the word Hittite is found some 47 times in the KJV and is 8 times a topical index. A quick look at Exodus 23:28-33, essentially the Hittite's are to be driven out, there is to be made no covenant with them or their Gods, then there is a warning about serving their Gods. Later in Deuteronomy 20:17 "But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee:” We see the Hittite's placed alongside the Canaanite's, and we see Canaanite's as idolatrous as we see in Psalm 106:38 and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.


    So we see the driving out of Canaanite's as they are thought to be idolatrous and Hittite's are also to be driven out. The inference of Canaan worshiping idols and Hittites worshiping other Gods places them analogous categorically. However, Hittites being Indo-Euro could not look at their Gods and this is synonymous with the Gods of Mediterranean people, as their Gods are seen as Gods of light, so no idols. Something else to note the Hittites not being able to look upon their gods is similar to what YHWH told Moses that no man can see him and live. So Moses hides in the cleft of a rock as YHWH passed him and Moses could see his backside.


    I don't know if it shows Jewish exceptionalism, the reason being is that the Jewish or ancient Israelite ceremony and the day of atonement can be seen much like Greece wherein there would be no previous concept and that it would have been an original idea.


    Timelines is a difficult subject for example I have met a few historians who have equated the Noahnic deluge about 2359 BC whereas the deluge of Ziusudra in Sumer is placed about 5500 BC. So it doesn't surprise me that among independent researchers, noted scholars, archaeologist, historians, etc, will have differing timelines. What are those some suppositional grounds to support a limited exodus narrative? Yes, as I stated it is not clear that there was an Israeli exodus, then again I do not like the word speculation, as I am a very curious person.


    I'm not sure that we would agree on this but pre-Sumer I don't see any civilizations per say. So history at least for civilization would begin in Sumer, but as I know what predates Sumer are only scattered groups of people and not necessarily civilizations. I don't know if using Amazonian tribes can properly fit that model as the people of Sumer are advanced for their time and are seen as having the first inventions, while Amazonian tribes are brutish in nature. Anthropology could produce maybe some clues to pre-Sumer, however I'm not totally sure if Sumer would have developed the same way that Amazonian tribes or Andaman Islander's would have. The other issue is that in polytheism we see multiple gods with diverse powers, but we also see demigods such as Gilgamesh, Enkidu, Adapa, and others. In monotheism in contrast we see a one God figure with all those powers rolled in one, the closest demigod we see in both Islam and Christianity is Mohammed and Jesus, of course Jesus is seen as the son of God and Mohammed is a divine prophet, and I do know and am aware of the dispute against that, feel free to make them as I'm sure you will. But to say that a pre-civilization developed the idea of a triune God (for the sake of Christianity) would be very hard-pressed as developing cultures and their ideas would not reflect for example Sumerian city-states, wherein they worship differing gods of the same pantheon.


    I have heard before that Peleg is when the land splits, but this came from my friend who is a seminary teacher. I'd have to research a little further, and you could be right. The sons of Noah; Ham, Shem, Japeth, per our debate (me and my friend) only use those as reference points as there is an equating of them to possible Sumer kings.


    You're right I think this was for somebody else. The idea of an adversary develops, while sin changes in concept throughout the ages.
     
  14. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    Did you want to debate this issue?
     
  15. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    Polytheism is not a single religious tradition or even idea. There is a vast gulf between Indo-European conceptions of their gods and the Semitic variety. If you are only arguing parallels of this type, then it does not really equate to much but that humans everywhere are human, that we recognise similar archetypes. This would be arguing the Golden Bough, essentially.
    It is similar to how the idea of the Corn King, a dying and then reborn agricultural deity as seen in some cultures, has such a common prevalence. I myself, see a prefiguration of Christ in the Corn-king myths, as a praeperatio amongst the Pagans for the gospel.

    We know there is influence from one to the other. This is history and even mentioned in the Bible, where Israel whores after foreign gods and initially utilises High Places, Mulk sacrifices and Asherah poles themselves. I don't see what point you are trying to make.

    What are you talking about? Of course the Indo-Europeans could look on their gods. Have you ever read the Iliad? Or Norse mythology? Humans directly interacted with them, even wounding them and sleeping with them.

    We know that Semitic people moved between Canaan and the Delta. We have the record of Semitic inscriptions in the delta, adoption of Canaanite gods in Egypt like Reshef, and even Semitic dynasties that ruled it, like the Hyksos. Similarly, our first reference to YHWH is in the Sinai in the 15th century BC, the Shasu of YHW, before moving north to appear as the National God of Israel. We see Egyptian influence, like certain Psalms that bear similarities to Egyptian ones, most notably 104, or the use of Scarab seals in the 8th century in Judah. Then we have the Exodus narrative itself, which is ancient and argues that they had been slaves under Egypt and lead out by a man bearing a clearly Egyptian name. It is unlikely that a narrative that is so degrading, "we were slaves in Egypt", would be fully invented, nor that the active person therein, via his name and so forth, does not appear to have a rock-solid Jewish pedigree. On top of this ancient Jewish tale, we have an Egyptian historian saying something similar, Manetho, and Greek historians like Herodotus calling the Jews a 'type of Egyptian'.
    So we have clear historic evidence that movement of peoples occurred between Egypt and Canaan; we have an ancient Jewish story, a similar Egyptian story, corroborating views from another people, movement of the God of these people as the story relates, Egyptian influence in Israel, and periods during which it could have occurred such as the Second Intermediate period or latter of the 19th dynasty. None of this is very strong in and of itself, but gives suppositional grounds to assume some event to account for the storyline, but smaller as there is not so much physical evidence, and ancient narratives tend to exaggerate numbers anyway. So you cannot really discount a limited Exodus completely, but it would not be very easy to prove anyway, as you would be looking for a temporary nomadic movement of peoples.

    Again, not a pre-Sumer civilisation. Just primitive tribes that over time became more developed until they eventually became the Civilisation, but during this transition would have undergone religious development along with their societal and material development. You are completely failing to grasp the point here. The Ur-Monotheismus theory is not a Christian theory or even a religious one. It is an Anthropological one, so they do not assume a trinity or anything of that sort. Nor do we expect anything but vague reminders of the earlier state, like that Anu is King of the gods say. I really can't explain it better, so rather just look for the Anthropology texts, for perhaps they will make the theory more plain to you.
     
  16. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    What I am saying is that polytheism is adopted with ideologies between polytheistic cultures, and we see that reflected in monotheistic belief systems as well. So to not be confused, we don't only see influence on monotheism, but also polytheism to polytheism. I seriously doubt the Jews would have directly had any indication of all the Akkadian thoughts on religion and its cause and effect, but they may have on the Babylonian's, and would rightfully so be influenced in that manner. Furthermore, the Bible seeminly equates Canaanite's and Hittite's, hence it attempts to show a parallelism between the both. But it is a far fetched parallel as Canaanite's are idol worshipers and Hittite's cannot see their Gods. To further this the myth of Semele and Zeus, Semele made Zeus swear by Styx to do anything she asked. He loved her so much that he swore to do anything. She asked too see him as he truly was. He revealed himself and she was incinerated. No Hittite's could not look at their Gods, as Indo-Euro Gods are said to have intense shining aura that blinds the mortal eye. Hence the similarity to Moses and YHWH, and also Gods never manifested themselves so it was impossible to tell what they looked like. Hittite depictions of Gods focused on depicting the attributes of a God, which were many, so could take many forms. Gods were usually represented in human form which reflected their human natures and characteristics. Sometimes Gods were represented by simple icons, like a disk to represent the Sun God, but this was not part of a fixed iconographic system. I tend to make an equivocation between the Jesus hero in the Bible, and Dumuzid, Enki, Inanna, Tammuz, and a few others, as the stories and characteristics of all are thought to be products of divine display.

    History of Hittite Art, Artefacts & Antiquities

    Also, Iliad is about 800 bc, while as I think the Zeus and Semele epic is much older, also the Norse from the Late Upper Paleolithic to right before the Bronze Age I don't see statues being produced. This requires some research but I will look more into it of course. Also, in Hittite religion Gods were often depicted standing on the backs of their respective beasts, or may have been identifiable in their animal form, this only states possible anthropomorphism, and not necessarily directly a God figure, as we do not know what a Hittite God looked like.

    I don't doubt that Semitic' moved forth and back between Canaan and other lands, and I agree with you. But also I stated there is little evidence to suggest an Israelite exodus from Egypt, but I'm not saying it is impossible to summarize that it may have happened. For the sake of history I am not totally inclined to think there was a mass exodus (whether monotheistic or polytheistic), but it would be unfair to make that kind of assumption when its veracity can be challenged.

    I don't disagree about primitive tribes. The question then remains what was their original thoughts on divine beings, yes and I realize it is not a Christian theory or an Islamic theory I was using it as an example. But, nonetheless it's a very hard theory to prove in totality. As I am aware we could possibly look at clues from Göbekli Tepe and possible French cave drawings, and I only have some information on that.

    Do you ever browse through Academia?
     
  17. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    Something I didn't add, concerning a much later period with the Egyptian and Hittite war, so there is a peace treaty in 1258 bc. The Biblical lands, like Israel and Judah. These toponyms are not contemporary to the period of history when the Hittite's and the Egyptian engage in a war and peace treaty. The first well-attested use of the word Israel comes from an Egyptian source, dating to the reign after Ramesses II known as the Merneptah Stela (also known as the Israel Stela). During a mission to Canaan, King Merneptah claims to have destroyed Israel, but at this time is referring to a group of people rather than a state. The state of Israel goes on to develop in the early Iron Age, while states such as Egypt are declining in power. Eventually, the kingdom divides into Israel and Judah. These lands occupy much of the territory formerly known as Canaan.

    How about Canaan and the Levant? Canaanite people are referred to in the Bible, and so the land of Canaan is identifiable as the southern portion of Syria-Palestine (the area in which the Biblical narratives concerning the Canaanites are set). The Egyptians also referred to Canaan during the Late Bronze Age, and so Canaanites are the groups that they encounter at one time. Exactly who the Canaanites were is a matter of some debate—were they a distinct group, or was the term used to describe various cultural groups in the area? Regardless, the terms Canaan and Canaanite eventually drop out of use when new powers consume the area. The Levant is a word which describes the whole Syro-Palestinian region as being eastern land (Levant arrives in the English from Latin via French, and refers to the place in which the sun rises (by comparison the words Orient and Levant—both derive from the same Latin root). While this is a term used by archaeologists today, we can stick to Syria-Palestine, which describes the area in relation to itself rather than other parts of the globe.
     
  18. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    The Hittites seem to have adopted mostly Hurrian gods, or at least their nomenclature.
    It is however wrong to think Indo-Europeans didn't 'look' upon their gods. We see myths of Apollo and Marsyas or Aphrodite and Paris that firmly show this. On the opposite end, we see Semele and perhaps Psyche. Determining the relative 'ancientness' of myths is very difficult, as Hesiod and so forth are our first sources for them, and are first written down largely contemporaneously with the Iliad. So we really can't make that argument.
    Polytheism tends to be non-dogmatic, so diverse and often contradictory myths occur, so the idea that people necessarily couldn't look upon their gods is quite wrong. It can be argued that the gods limit their brilliance for the mortals perhaps? This is what I would argue with Semele's myth.

    The Norse did make statues. The Sagas are full of them and on Christianisation, they were destroyed and the sacred groves cut down. There is a famous story of Charlemagne cutting down the Irmensul pillar or King Olaf cleansing his realm of idols on conversion. At Birka there was supposedly a large circle of statues of the gods, roughly hewn from wood and stone.

    Anyway, associating bright with the gods is not just Indo-European. The Cuneiform sign for An, also used as a determinitive for 'god', looks sort of like an asterisk, and likely means 'bright' or 'shining' originally, perhaps referencing a star. Again though, that is a conjectural reconstruction as we do not have a comparative language for Sumerian, being a language isolate.


    I have been upfront that it is suppositional, which is why it is not really seen as a formal part of the historic narrative.

    On occasion for specific topics. I am a strong believer in reading original sources instead of other people talking about them. Don't tell me that Livy said this, I'd rather read what Livy himself said and then read your commentary.
     
  19. ShamashUruk

    ShamashUruk Hello

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    The idea that Indo-Euro worshipers could not look directly on their Gods in their true form, I think is why we don't see Hittite's having Godly statues necessarily. Right, she is burned up by Zeus, and YHWH cannot be seen. The Hurrians lived in Northern Mesopotamia so I assume their language is a Proto-Indo-Euro language, though I am unaware of them having "idols" per se. But, idol worship generally relates to recognition of a statue to represent a God, this is the easiest way I can explain it.

    Also a little clear up on "idol" worship, we see in Exodus 32:24 gold being cast into a fire to make a calf.

    Gold during the times of the ancient Egyptians as an example; gold used by the Egyptians generally contains silver, often in substantial amounts, and it appears that for most of Egypt’s history gold was not refined to increase its purity. The color of a metal is affected by its composition gradations in hue that range between the bright yellow and embellished a vessel dating to the Third Intermediate Period for example. Hence Egyptian earrings would reflect this, also the gold used by the Egyptians and specifically Egyptian goldsmiths had added a significant amount of copper to a natural gold-silver alloy to attain a reddish hue. Gold is generally found in locations where there is a lot of quartz. So of course the Egyptians who mined gold would have had this kind of access.

    Gold is an inanimate object; basically it is a thing that is not alive, such as a rock, a chair, a book, and so on. The golden calf in the biblical texts is not necessarily a calf; it is fashioned to be a lunar bull or a young bull. As the Egyptians would have worshiped the living animal, and not an image of it. also, the bull is the symbol of divinity only among settled agriculturists, and not among nomads such as the Israelites then were. Among the Hebrews, as among the other agricultural Semites, the bull was associated with a deity in a sacred character as the Ox, more associated with Yhwh or Yahweh. However, the word Yahweh related in those times to Yahwehistic cults.

    Bringing this to the idea of "idol" worship, just like the golden earrings (inanimate object) story and making of a statue (inanimate object), even if it say were made purely of a type of material (any material) it is still an inanimate object. For example, the idea of having an object such as a cross on steeple is representation or symbolism of what that cross represents that is mounted on a church steeple. Retrospectively we don't see worship of the cross, nor do we see worship of the statue, both are subsequently recognized as a symbol that represent a specific deity or God. We see this in monotheistic as well polytheistic themes. Hence the association of "idol" worship is not well stated in monotheistic themes, and historically is vague. This is because statues are representational and are not actually ‘animate’, as in there is no such thing as a deity living inside of the statue. Of course this history of symbolism and worship goes back much further than the time of the Exodus.

    Check Amazon for this subject on the history of statues and their symbolism

    (Divine Substitution: Humanity As The Manifestation Of Deity In The Hebrew Bible And The Ancient Near East (Forschungen Zur Religion Und Literatur Des ... Und Literatur Des Alten Und Neuen Testaments): Amazon.co.uk: Stephen L Herringphd: 9783525536124: Books)

    To caveat to this, we see a sense of worship concerning the bull, one could argue there is no worship of a cross. However, with Polytheism we don't see a worship of "idols" per se, as it is representational of the God figure. It is a common theme in Biblical texts that I myself contend is not well stated, of course you can make your own conclusions.

    There is an aspect in some early polytheistic cultures and comaprison between Egypt and Sumer. In Egypt they would perform mouth rituals so that the person could eat and drink in the afterlife, we also see this with bulls.

    In Sumer we see offerings placed on graves; as well statues. Graves for persons passed on for the underworld near statues for the Gods to take, but not for the statue itself. R. E. Friedman noted the role of the cult statue as only "to remind" the worshiper of the deity's representation. The best comparison is "this do in remembrance of me" ritual, which is representational of Christ on the cross in Biblical literature and not the actual blood and flesh.

    To clear up, the Cuneiform that looks like an asterisk for Anu is noted as a 'dingir' a representational of all Sumerian Gods, not necessarily limited to Anu. To your point, we don't have a comparative.

    It seems that Urmonotheismus was theorized by Andrew Lang, and is the idea that a high god or 'All Father' existed among some of the simplest of contemporary tribes, prior to Western contact. Alleged traces of primitive monotheism were located in the deities Assyrian Ashur and Marduk, and Hebrew YHWH. Monotheism in Schmidt's view is the "natural" form of theism, which was later overlaid and "degraded" by polytheism.

    By the 1950s, the hypothesis of primitive ethical monotheism was rejected by the academic establishment, so its proponents of Schmidt's "Vienna school" rephrased it to the effect that while ancient cultures may not have known "true monotheism", they at least show evidence for "original theism" (Ur-Theismus, as opposed to non-theistic animism), with a concept of Hochgott ("High God", as opposed to Eingott "Single God"). Christian apologetics in the light of this have moved away from postulating a "memory of revelation" in pre-Christian religions, replacing it with an "inkling of redemption" or virtuous paganism unconsciously anticipating monotheism.

    It certainly is an interesting hypothesis, though this would oppose a view that first came preanimism, animism, toteism, polytheism and finally monotheism.
     
  20. OldWiseGuy

    OldWiseGuy Wake me when it's soup. Supporter

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    Only one God is mentioned in Genesis 1 (the only recorded beginning of human history), thus monotheism. An evil world then produced many 'gods'. Later God introduced himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and proclaimed himself the one true God. It took millennia but the west worships only one God today. However polytheism still exists around the world among the heathen, pagans, aborigines, etc.
     
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